Anne Ruthmann is a wedding & lifestyle photographer in Boston, MA. She spent 10 years practicing marketing & management in corporate and non-profit businesses before pursuing her passion for photography in 2004 as an independent small business. She is a regular contributor to PhotoLovecat.com and loves helping others find creative and smarter solutions to business problems. Follow her on Twitter to see her daily adventures and thoughts.
You went to WPPI, you saw lots of awesome speakers and products, but now what?! Here are some step-by-step tips for implementing what you gained at WPPI (or other photography conferences). Start with paper, sticky notes, or an electronic document that makes it easy to move ideas around on a page.
1. Create Top 5 Action List
List the top 5 actions you want to take in your photography and/or business this year. It's critical to build this list from your memory and capture your top 5 action items without influence from any other factors. The 5 most important things for you will already be on the top of your mind and looking at materials will only remind you of less important things you might want to do.
2. Create Awesome Ideas List
List everything else you learned or thought was a great idea. List as much as you can- fill pages upon pages if you need to- the key is to get all of those awesome ideas buzzing in your head out on to a page so you can physically organize them outside of your brain. This is where you can pour through your notes and brochures if you'd like in order to recapture ideas you forgot about. Reflecting on everything you experienced and putting it into a tangible medium is a critical step in learning and moving beyond ideas floating in your mind.
3. Map Ideas onto Actions
For each of your Top 5 Actions – find Awesome Ideas that support those actions, and list the supporting ideas under each action. For example, if one of your Actions is: “Start Selling Albums”, look for ideas related to albums: brochures from album companies you like, sales ideas you heard in a seminar, designers you might be able to work with, album software that could help you, etc. Do this for each of your Top 5 Actions.
4. Eliminate The Waste
Even though you probably picked up a TON of awesome ideas at WPPI, you really need to let go of things that you can't take action on in the next couple of months. Get rid of any brochures that don't relate to your top 5 action items. You still have your written list where all of the awesome ideas are stored and you can return to them at any time, but there's no need to keep clutter around that isn't going to be immediately useful. There's always next year or the year afterward, and by that time, there may be even better ideas out there that will blow away any ideas you captured this year.
5. Schedule Time to Take Action
Block out time in your calendar to implement your action items. Maybe you create one day a week to focus on them, maybe you set aside an hour each day. Whatever you do- put it in your calendar with an alert or reminder so that you aren't filling that time with less important things, like social media, when you could be creating action that directly benefits you and your clients.
6. Prioritize Actions for Importance
Decide which action is most important to begin moving on immediately, versus what can wait a few weeks. This will help you focus and invest your time wisely toward completing actions that are most critical to your photography business. Put your prioritized Top 5 Action List in a place where you will see it every day, so that even as you get in the thick of your business, you have a regular reminder of what you need to do in order to move to the next level.
7. Connect With Helpful People
Once you start taking action on your items, you'll inevitably want some help figuring things out or getting feedback on what works and doesn't work. If you don't already have a network of people near you that you can bounce ideas off of, search Facebook for Groups titled “[Major City or State] Photographers” – there's a good chance someone has already created a group on Facebook where you can connect with other photographers near you. Make sure you have your website displayed in your profile in case moderation is required to join the group.
If you liked this post by Anne, you should read the wildly popular one she wrote for Tiffinbox called “6 Reasons Why Photographers Suck At Business.”
Yep, sound off below! Anne and I want to hear from you in the comments section below.